Monday, February 16, 2015

Poetry Break: Poem Read at Joan Mitchell's

Free Verse (MA. Reilly, 2010)

Poem Read at Joan Mitchell's

                   - Frank O'Hara

At last you are tired of being single
the effort to be new does not upset you nor the effort to be other
you are not tired of life together

city noises are louder because you are together
being together you are louder than calling separately across a telephone one to the other
and there is no noise like the rare silence when you both sleep
even country noises—a dog bays at the moon, but when it loves the moon it bows, and the hitherto frowning moon fawns and slips

Only you in New York are not boring tonight
it is most modern to affirm some one
(we don't really love ideas, do we?)
and Joan was surprising you with a party for which I was the decoy
but you were surprising us by getting married and going away
so here I am reading poetry anyway
and no one will be bored tonight by me because you're here

Yesterday I felt very tired from being at the FIVE SPOT
and today I felt very tired from going to bed early and reading ULYSSES
but tonight I feel energetic because I'm sort of the bugle,
like waking people up, of your peculiar desire to get married

It's so
original, hydrogenic, anthropomorphic, fiscal, post-anti-esthetic, bland, unpicturesque and WilliamCarlosWilliamsian!
it's definitely not 19th century, it's not even Partisan review, it's new, it must be vanguard!

Tonight you probably walked over here from Bethune Street
down Greenwich Avenue with its sneaky little bars and the Women’s Detention House,
across 8th Street, by the acres of books and pillows and shoes and illuminating lampshades,
past Cooper Union where we heard the piece by Mortie Feldman with “The Stars and Stripes Foever” in it
and the Segamore’s terrific “coffee and, Andy,” meaning “with a cheese Danish”—
did you spit on your index fingers and rub the CEDAR’s neon circle for luck?
did you give a kind of thought, hurrying, to Alger Hiss?

It’s the day before February 17th
it is not snowing yet but it is dark and may snow yet
dreary Frebruary of the exhaustion from parties and the exceptional desire for spring which the ballet alone, by extending its run, has made bearable, dear New York City Ballet company, you are quite a bit like a wedding yourself!
and the only signs of spring are Maria Tallchief’s rhinestones and a perky little dog barking in a bar, here and there eyes which suddenly light up with blue, like a ripple subsiding under a lily pad, or with brown, like a freshly plowed field we vow we’ll drive out and look at when a certain Sunday comes in May—
and these eyes are undoubtedly Jane’s and Joe’s because they are advancing into spring before us and tomorrow is Sunday

This poem goes on too long because our friendship has been long, long for this life and these times, long as art is long and uninterruptable,
and I would make it as long as I hope our friendship lasts if I could make poems that long

I hope there will be more
more drives to Bear mountain and searches for hamburgers, more evenings avoiding the latest Japanese movies and watching Helen Vinson and Warner Baxter in Vogues of 1938 instead, more discussions in lobbies of the respective greatnesses of Diana Adams and Allegra Kent,
more sunburns and more half-mile swims in which Joe beats me as Jane watches, lotion-covered and sleepy, more arguments over Faulkner's inferiority to Tolstoy while sand gets into my bathing trunks
let's advance and change everything, but leave these little oases in case the heart gets thirsty en route
and I should probably propose myself as a godfather if you have any children, since I will probably earn more money some day accidentally, and could teach him or her how to swim
and now there is a Glazunov symphony on the radio and I think of our friends who are not here, of John and the nuptial quality of his verses (he is always marrying the whole world) and Janice and Kenneth, smiling and laughing, respectively (they are probably laughing at the Leaning Tower right now)
but we are all here and have their proxy
if Kenneth were writing this he would point out how art has changed women and women have changed art and men, but men haven't changed women much
but ideas are obscure and nothing should be obscure tonight
you will live half the year in a house by the sea and half the year in a house in our arms
we peer into the future and see you happy and hope it is a sign that we will be happy too, something to cling to, happiness
the least and best of human attainments

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